Relighting the spark

At the beginning of a relationship couples are mostly drawn to each other in a very strong way, enjoying each other’s company and sharing an exciting and pleasurable intimacy and sexuality.

Everything is new and exciting, feelings are fresh and there is seldom a problem in finding time and space for each other.

But for many couples this changes after a while. In long term relationships the initial flame and spark that was once there can become a bit suffocated by the demands of everyday life.

To some extent, this is perfectly normal and part of being in a commuted long term- relationship. While at the beginning all that matters is being with each other, over time, other everyday life matters become more and more important too, and need their space and time as well.

Ideally, there is a good balance of both: special time for the couple just with each other and time and space for everything else that matters and needs either individual or joint attentions or energy.

But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we?

After a busy week at work, deadlines that need to be met, worries of unpaid bills, commitments to family and friends, many couples just long for the end of the day, exhausting into bed without any intentions other than sleep.

Or because everyday life is in such a rut, work from 9 – 7, kids home from school at 4, football at 5, dinner at 8, intimacy and sexuality also find a similar slot, maybe Sunday mornings at 10 (when mum takes the kids), making it foreseeable, planned and maybe even boring.

So what can couples do to relight the spark in the bedroom and be physically drawn to each other again, even after many years of being together and maybe living a very busy and demanding every day life?

The first step is just recognising what is actually going on and when and how sexuality is lived in the relationship. Have both partners lost a bit of their initial spark or is it more the one than the other? Has sexuality and intimacy become a rut that only happens in the same way at the same time all the time, because there doesn’t seem to be any other time and space for it?

Has one or the other partner (or both) lost sexual interest in the other? Have other circumstances (for example childbirth, illness, etc..) taken an effect on the desire for sexuality?

As soon as the effects and causes are recognised and identified it actually only takes a little work to make some changes.

The biggest problem is that over time, sexuality and intimacy are less and less prioritised in a couple’s life. While at the beginning, it might have played a very big role and had a high priority, after a while, other things just become more and more important. And again, this is absolutely normal and natural, too. But sometimes intimacy and sexuality can fall further and further down the line of priorities, maybe even to the end of the list. And maybe this should be reconsidered.

Time and space for sexuality play an important role, and often there just doesn’t seem any left for it, especially not in families with young kids. But time and space are also just a question of priorities.

Couples who find that they don’t have any time for each other or feel that their sexuality is suffocated by the demands of everyday life could ask themselves, how much priority they actually give their sexuality compared to other things. If there is always time for aunt Mary to call for tea on a Sunday afternoon, always time for neighbours kids to come and play at the house at the weekends, always time for a football match or a soap opera, why shouldn’t there also be time for intimacy? And if there isn’t, then maybe some priorities could be reconsidered, for example the kids playing at the neighbours for a change, aunt Mary going to town for her tea, TV programmes being recorded…

Another thing that can be helpful to relight the spark is to break the rut in which sexuality normally takes place. In long term relationships this is mostly in the evening time, in the bedroom, when both partners are prone to be worn out and tired.

But intimacy and sexuality can take place anywhere that is private and is not exclusive to the evening time. By doing things differently, unexpectedly or “out of the box”, things may light up a bit more and get more exciting.

Giving sexuality and intimacy more space doesn’t only mean having to give it more physical space or places to do it, but also giving it more space in the mind, too.

When sexuality is less and less prioritised, we also pay our own sexuality less and less attention.

By creating some new space in the mind, allowing oneself to think about sexuality more, broadening the horizons, maybe getting interested in new things, things might get more exciting and different, too.

Over time, things do change in every relationship, and it is part of a very normal and healthy process. But relationships are on-going work and need on-going care and attention, sexuality and intimacy being a part of it.

By identifying what priorities sexuality and intimacy have become in a relationship over time and re-prioritising certain things, the initial fire that drew to people together can be relighted and kept burning for a very long time.